I’m visiting the good folks at Lowes in Milford, MA. I was merrily toodling along the highway, my lovely Cape Cod vacation behind me, and my loving husband ahead of me, when my car made scary beeping noises. They were followed by a calm female voice warning about tornados, and telling me to, “Take cover now!”
Excuse me? Where’s the exit?
From the time of the warning to the time I arrived at Lowes, I made dozens of decisions, some smart, some stupid.
Stupid: I’ll keep driving. If I see a tornado, I can take cover under an overpass.
Smart: Do I even know where the next overpass is? And what if the tornado is coming up behind me? I won’t even know I need to take cover. And what if there’s a tornado, but no overpass in sight? I need to find an exit.
Stupid: This is a long trip home. Maybe I could wait and get off the highway in a couple of exits so I’ll at least get a few more miles out of the way.
Smart: Okay, since I don’t know how far away the next exit is, I’m getting off, now.
Stupid: The warning is for the next 20 minutes. I could keep going and just drive fast. In 20 minutes I could be 20 miles away. I could be out of range of the tornado area in less than that.
Smart: I don’t know what direction the storm is traveling. I need to take the next exit. Besides, I’m crawling along the highway as it is with my windshield wipers going full speed, and I still can’t see the car in front of me. Wait, the car in front of me is taking the exit. I’m following them.
So, now that I’m being smart, where should I hole up? That’s another whole set of decisions, which I weighed carefully since I was on a smart-kick.
Wendy’s? Nah, too small, and I’ll probably eat something with a lot of calories.
The Mattress Firm? The mattresses could afford protection, but the entire storefront is floor-to-ceiling windows. I remember from the Tornado Drills when I was teaching in Georgia that you stay away from doors and windows.
Lowes? They have a sturdy-looking building, but if the roof comes off, that’s a lot of sharp potential projectiles that could be blowing around.
But Lowes wins because they have lawn furniture, which is what I’m sitting on right now while I’m writing this, waiting for the storm to pass.
Waiting with my computer… and the older couple hunting for an umbrella substitute because she just got her hair done and doesn’t want to get it wet. Waiting with a young father with two school-age girls sitting on another patio set. He’s kind enough to show me the storm on his phone so we can watch it pass as we listen to it pound the roof. Apparently, my smart phone is smart enough to pull up the same images, but I’m not, so I rely on the kindness of strangers.
We didn’t see a tornado (I hope the rest of the area fared as well), but I’m glad I decided to take cover in Lowes. It was the smart thing to do, and I had a nice time.
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